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Staten Island Mexican Eatery and Tequila Bar Maizal Expands to Astoria

 Staten Island eatery Maizal opened its second outpost last week at 32-07 34th Ave. in Astoria.
Maizal Opens Second Location in Astoria
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ASTORIA — A Mexican restaurant and tequila bar from Staten Island is setting up shop in Astoria.

Maizal, which has been serving burritos, tacos and other Mexican fare in Staten Island's Rosebank neighborhood since 2010, opened its second location at 32-07 34th Ave. in Astoria last week.

The new post of the family-run restaurant will be similar to its original location, according to owner Leonel Zelaya, who said they spent the last four years fine-tuning the menu, which includes made-to-order guacamole, skirt steak tacos and beef short ribs braised in tomatillo sauce.

"We had four years to refine our model and get really good feedback," said Zelaya, 46.  "Now that we have the education and the experience, we feel that it's a great opportunity for us to open in Astoria."

His brother, 31-year-old French Culinary Institute grad Wilmer Santos, is the head chef at both eateries. Zelaya said their most popular dinner dishes include the grouper tikin-xic — a Mayan dish where the fish is steamed in a plantain leaf — or their enchiladas de mole poblano.

"Those have chocolate in them. The people who try them really become addicted to them," he said.

The Astoria Maizal is currently open only for dinner, but plans to serve brunch in the future.

And though they're still waiting for a liquor license, Zelaya said he's hoping it will be approved sometime next month, at which point the eatery plans to offer about 75 different kinds of tequila, plus mojitos, margaritas and the Brazilian cocktail caipirinha.

In the meantime, customers can sip on some of the restaurant's soft drink offerings, like homemade lemonade and mango iced tea.

Zelaya was once an Astoria resident, having lived in the neighborhood before he moved to Staten Island, and said he's glad to be back.

"I lived here for about six years, and when I left I actually was a little sad because I love the restaurants here," he said. "This is a place that I wanted to come back to."